One Time After AnotherRating:
Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, a cameo by The PlayerNotes:
So I uh, had a coursework deadline recently. And when I have an imminent deadline I tend to fixate on the nearest thing to hand, which turned out to be an awesome film
called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
... YES THIS IS ANOTHER WORKING-OUT-THE-CHARACTERS PIECE, WHAT CAN I SAY. Tenses may be screwy. Ending may be inconclusive. Writing for characters who aren't sure who they are can result in interesting pronoun abuse. Needs more Hamlet. Two am editing. Please forgive me. [Spoilers for the whole film.]
One time, he didn't pick up the coin in the road. Didn't even see it, covered in dust and dirt as it was, like it had been dropped and picked up a thousand times before.***
One time, they never figured out which was which and who was who. One never noticed, switching between names with a breezy easiness that could only come from neither knowing nor caring
which he was. The other went around with a semi-permanent crease in his forehead, as though if he only thought long enough, look distracted enough, someone would have to shout "Guildenstern!" or "Rosencrantz" to get his attention.
(Which isn't to say that they didn't of course, but not one
seemed able to say his name without following it up with the other, correcting something they might have had correct in the first place.) ***
One time, they tried to ignore the messenger. One rolled away from the window, hiding his head under the arm of the other, until the other raised that
arm to shield his own
Someone was banging on the shutters, shouting two names that, while not immediately familiar, were not the names of complete strangers.
"Maybe if we don't answer they'll leave us alone," one said hopefully, rolling further until he was on top of his companion, who had to clutch at the side of the bed to avoid being rolled off entirely. "It can't be earlier than noon, they'll understand if we're still asleep -"
The one being lain on tried to resist, tried to lie there and ignore the banging at the shutters until it went away, clinging to the last remaining conviction that this
was the point, this
was his opportunity to change everything, they just had to avoid the messenger -
But he couldn't remember why. The thought was gone, snatched away as swiftly as his certainty that they would be safe this
time, as his knowledge of what "this time" actually was, as his recollection of exactly what his name was -
All that was left was a man curled up on top of him, mumbling into his chest, and a messenger banging on the shutters with an urgent message from the king.
He shoved his friend away and went to see what the king wanted with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.***
One time, Rosencrantz was the first to work it out. He leaned over a balcony and yelled "Guildenstern!" as he dropped something folded out of parchment down to him, surprised and happy and with completely certainty.
It didn't save them, but at least that time around they died knowing that - for a few moments at least, before the world shifted and Rosencrantz forgot again - they both knew exactly who they were.***
Once, the Player opened his mouth to give what was undoubtedly going to be another nonsensical non-answer - and then he stopped, eying Rosencrantz as though he'd just realised the puncline to a joke.
"You still don't understand, do you?" he said, and Rosencrantz shook his head enthusiastically as he fastened his shirt. The Player smiled and shook his head in return. "We all have our parts to play. Yours appears to be the eternal dupes."
supposed to mean?" Rosencrantz asked, but the Player was already bowing and sweeping out of the bath house, the rest of his troupe following him, leaving Rosencrantz confused and wondering what all that
was all about.***
One time, they didn't deviate from the script at all.
Not one word.
Not until the moment they stood together, waiting for death to come upon them, that crystal moment when they saw everything as it was - to the point where they could almost hear the rustling of their cosmic audience - when one glanced at the other and said "I told you it wouldn't work. Didn't I tell you it wouldn't work?"
The other gaped at him and said "No,"
The mouth of the first started to twitch into a wobbly smile. "Statement. One love."
"Not. Now. Rosencrantz." And Guildenstern reached out with his bound hands, catching one of Rosencrantz's, thinking that it's right
that they die as they lived, Rosencrantz saying something inane and himself scolding and thinking too hard, clutching each other's hands and Rosencrantz's name - and Rosencrantz is
his name, Guildenstern knows it better than he knows his own - on his lips.
It almost drowns out the panic that comes when he realises that they did it all right,
did everything they were supposed
to do, and it still ended this way.***
They never stopped to read the papers. Maybe the next time around, they should.